Chinese security forces on Wednesday attacked Tibetan demonstrators near Kirti monastery in western China after a monk set himself on fire in protest at Chinese rule, according to Tibetan exile sources with contacts in the region.
The monk, Lobsang Phuntsog, 21, was kicked and beaten by police while they put out the flames and is believed to have died, witnesses said.
The protest took place on the third anniversary of a 2008 protest at Kirti, in the Ngaba Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of China’s Sichuan province, in which Chinese police fired on a crowd of Tibetans, killing at least 10.
Lobsang Phuntsog, a monk at Kirti monastery, set himself ablaze at about 4:00 p.m. on March 16 and walked, shouting slogans, toward the market square in the town of Ngaba, a monk named Tsering at the India-based Kirti monastery in exile said, citing sources in the region.
“Chinese police and security people present in the area immediately came to the scene and kicked and beat him as they extinguished the flames,” Tsering said.
“Local Tibetans and Kirti monks came to his rescue and took Phuntsog back to the monastery,” he added. “Some say that he was taken to a hospital, but everyone believes that he is dead.”
Later, Tsering said, nearly 1,000 monks and people from the town, also shouting slogans, marched in protest a half mile down the road to the marketplace, but were attacked by Chinese police wielding clubs, knives, and electric batons.
Many of the marchers were severely injured, with some stabbed and an unknown number detained, Tsering said, citing local sources.